In three-year Grafton race, Hall and Gibbs talk priorities

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Two candidates are running for one three-year term on the Grafton Select Board this year. Incumbent Noralee Hall, now in her first term, is being challenged by Cynthia Gibbs, a newcomer to a select board race but not to Grafton Town government. The election, by Australian ballot, will be held Tuesday, March 1 at Grafton Elementary School, 58 School St. in Grafton. Polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with Town Meeting beginning at 10 a.m.

The Telegraph asked the candidates questions about the future of Grafton in hopes that their answers will give voters some insight into those who want to represent them. Answers to each question are listed alphabetically by last name.

Having submitted a petition to run, Al Sands will be on the ballot for the two-year term being vacated by Sam Battaglino. After the petition deadline had passed Matt Siano announced that he would be running for the seat as a write-in.  For several reasons, including the lead time it takes to pull such coverage together, The Telegraph limits candidate questions to those races where the contestants have met the petition deadline.

Cynthia Gibbs is a life-long Grafton resident who grew up on an apple orchard. She worked as a dental assistant as well as raising two children in Grafton. Gibbs was also the Town Clerk for 32 years and Town Treasurer for 39 years. This is her first time running for the Grafton Select Board.

Noralee Hall moved to Vermont from Staten Island, NYC, in 1969. She has managed and worked in small businesses as well as volunteering  in Grafton since 1979. She lives in Grafton, has served three years on the Grafton Select Board and works at Grafton based Blake Hill Preserves.

1. Our first question is a two-parter:

a. Town Clerk Kim Record has established an informal committee to look into possible financial benefits from the Meadowsend-Iberdrola wind project. What role, if any, do you think the committee should play in the decision-making in the use of possible funds and if elected how will you handle the recommendations?

b. If the wind project goes through and Meadowsend and Iberdrola come through with annual financial payments to the Town of Grafton, name two or three ways you would like to see the funding used.

Cynthia Gibbs MugCynthia Gibbs: a. My understanding is that the committee is just getting information only, so I don’t think there will be any recommendations.

b. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but if it does happen they could pay off any debt they might have and do capital projects the Town of Grafton has been saving to get done with state grants.

Noralee Hall MugNoralee Hall: a. The Select Board should hear and consider recommendations from any and all citizen committees on any topic of concern to the Town of Grafton. On any specific topic, the Select Board is obliged to make a decision after having done its “due diligence,” which means thorough research into the matter. The Select Board’s decision should then be based on what the Select Board thinks would be best for the town.

b. Iberdrola’s proposed yearly payment of $285,000 is Iberdrola’s suggested property tax payment based on Iberdrola’s judgment of the project’s assessed value. Property assessments are, in fact, made by the Town’s Board of Listers. Like all tax payments the funds should go into the Town’s general fund.

2. What are the biggest challenges that Grafton will face in the next five years and how would you address those challenges?

Cynthia Gibbs MugCG: Keep the tax rate level.  Have the village store be a success.  The Select Board working together on doing the budget.



Noralee Hall MugNH:  As a town, we need to ask the question, “What does Grafton want to be going forward?” The fact is that tourism is the economic driver here.  I think one challenge is encouraging a base of small business that is compatible with our tourist industry.  How does the Select Board support an environment for this sort of economic growth?  An up-to-date, well-considered Town Plan is a critical step in addressing this challenge.

Another challenge for Grafton is maintenance and protection of our infrastructure — roads, culverts, bridges.  We have suffered three major floods since 1996, and two of those were localized events, so we know that we are flood prone.  Flood mitigation — ways to minimize the extent of flooding — is important.  For example, we need to work to prevent erosion as much as possible.

3.What would you like Grafton to look like in five years and how would you help to make that possible?

Cynthia Gibbs MugCG: Maybe some small businesses, more people helping out. The town doesn’t have as many as in the past.  No one person can do all that needs to be done.


Noralee Hall MugNH: I think that small business is key to Grafton being a destination town.  Our particular combination of beautiful scenery and interesting architecture makes for a very pretty package. Small businesses that would be friendly to that package: Small-scale agriculture, artisans’  shops, a vibrant general store and light cottage industry would make a good mix.

By making use of available resources and by reaching out to regional organizations, the Select Board can set the tone for the town.  A current Town Plan that expresses a coherent vision of the town’s future, use of small state and regional grants, and networking with area small businesses about their thoughts about growth are a few ways in which the Select Board could take the lead.

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